The other day I was watching a few episodes of West Wing, probably one of my favorite shows ever, though of course, nothing tops M.A.S.H, when I ran across one of the first episodes with the character Ainsley Hayes, played by Emily Procter (probably better known as Calleigh Duquesne on CSI: Miami).
In this episode, she moves into her basement office at the White House, and has a not-so-great first day. Throughout the episode, however, several references are made to Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore.
“It’s from Penzance or Iolanthe, one of the ones about duty.”
“They’re all about duty.”
“Were you the recording secretary of the Princeton Gilbert and Sullivan Society for two years?”
He is an Englishman!
I saw H.M.S. Pinafore for the first time (ever) last June with the Opera Columbus and though I haven’t yet seen Pirates of Penzance, I look forward to seeing it next March. In the meantime, I just won’t pass up an opportunity to tie Gilbert and Sullivan to a Sci Fi movie or great political drama!
It’s my duty!
Back in 2000 I saw the movie Gladiator – my last non-subtitled movie for a few years – before moving to Bulgaria. About six months after I arrived Gladiator was released there so I saw it again with some of my students on English night. (Every Thursday, we’d watch the movie that was on at the local movie theater, Kino Druzhba, and then meet up at a cafe to practice their English.)
That night we started talking about the music which, in some places, had a more haunting quality. The next time I went to Sofia, I would stop off at the book bazaar before grabbing some falafel at Baalbeks, our favorite Lebanese restaurant in the city.
The “book bazaar” as we called it, sold all sorts of books but also music CDs and movies. To picture it, think of a big outdoor flea-market with lots of tables piled high with stuff – any stuff – but mostly books and CDs. Everything was pirated. Heck, I once heard that Bulgaria was second only to China in terms of per capita pirated software/music sales. I don’t even know where we could have bought non-pirated CDs, but I heard they still cost the same as here in the States. CDs at the bazaar were sold at about 3 leva each which translates to about $1.50. The movies usually sold at about 7 leva, or $3.50. (Something like Photoshop would cost about 15 leva, or $7.50) Now for us that was dirt cheap. For the locals, that was a luxury since at the time, teachers only made about 5 leva per day ($75 per month) meaning a movie would cost more than a day’s wage.
To buy one, you’d walk up to a table, look at a list of movies and then tell the person working which one you wanted. Then, they’d run into one of the nearby buildings and about 10 minutes later, they’d return with a disc in hand. You’d pay them. They’d give you the CD and then you’d be on your merry way. Easy, right? Surprisingly they were very good quality and usually came out literally the first week of a movie’s release in the theaters.
After I picked up the Gladiator soundtrack, I listened to it over and over and over again. In it were some haunting vocals – especially for Track 5: Sorrow (For the scene where Russell Crowe’s character returns to his family home to find his wife and son had been murdered.) by a singer called Lisa Gerrard.
Since returning to the States, I’ve heard her music in a lot of other places as well such as Sanvean which was used in a scene of West Wing (When First daughter Zoey had been kidnapped). Each one has that same, powerfully emotional yet haunting sound to it
Gortoz A Ran is part of the soundtrack to Black Hawk Down, one of my favorite movies, featuring Denez Prigent and Lisa Gerrard, who first comes in about a minute in.
Finally, I think this was once borrowed for one of the trailers to Lord of the Rings, but it originally comes from the movie Requiem For a Dream. I’ve heard it’s a thoroughly depressing movie, but the music’s really good.
Lisa Gerrard has a lot more music out there – much of which is for movies. Here’s a link to Lisa Gerrard’s Official Website if you’d like to learn more.